Re-use before recycling of laser printer cartridges
Printer cartridges are seen as a single-use product by printer and vartridge Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). But they are not. As a matter of fact most of today’s printer cartridges fall within the scope of the WEEE-2 directive. When considering the use of raw materials, repairing and remanufacturing are the most preferable alternatives to landfill and/or recycling because the geometrical form of the product is retained and its associated economic value is preserved. Currently around 30,000 jobs exist in Europe alone directly related to the remanufacturing/repair of printer cartridges. Unfortunately, printers and cartridges OEMs have a narrow view when it comes to protecting the environment. They believe that capturing raw materials before they end up in landfill, and that the recycling of the raw material used in their cartridges is good enough. But the waste hierarchy clearly prefers re-use over mere raw material recycling.
- The refurbishing/repair/remanufacturing of printer cartridges offers good job opportunities and saves natural resources;
- According to Mattias Lindahl, Erik Sundin and Johan Östlin from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Linköping University in Sweden, the environmental impact can be reduced up to 61% if a cartridge is remanufactured at least twice, rather than newly manufactured, because of material recirculation;
- Furthermore, the geometrical form of the product is retained and its associated economic value is preserved;
- The remanufacturing of printer cartridges is best done close to end users in order to avoid long routes of transportation, and to minimize cross border travel of empty cartridges, which are currently still being seen as waste.